Browsed by
Category: Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

A Trio of Purple Leaves

A Trio of Purple Leaves

It is hard to ignore plants with leaves as stunning as these in a Parks garden. The purple is from one of the Sumachs or Rhus family. Selecting plants that contrast in colour shape or form is part of the skill of gardening but starting with plants like these is a good beginning.

Purple is one of my favourite leaf colours of the moment and the Lamium below is called Perilla fructenscens. I am putting several plants in one area of my garden and will see how well they get on with one another.

This Heuchera below surprised me growing in a wall cleft with thin soil. I do not remember planting it in what I thought would be a hostile location. It must have been self sown but I have not got any other plants except the parent.

Heuchera Facts and Varieties

Heuchera Facts and Varieties

I am hoping for some coloured Heucheras for Fathers day later this year – well hope is free!

Uses of Heuchera

  • Heuchera are commonly used as specimen plants or in small groups of the same variety.
  • They are at home in woodland gardens, rock gardens or as groundcover.
  • Heuchera are useful in patio pots or as components in mixed containers. They are often used at this time of year for winter containers
  • Flower panicles make fine additions to cut flower arrangements.
  • Heuchera attracts butterflies.
  • Heuchera consists of over 50 species and there are many new varieties so you could make a study and collection of these interesting plants.

Read More Read More

Roses with Single Petals

Roses with Single Petals


My book de Jour is ‘Fifty Favourite Roses’ Michael Gibson. A second reading has given me some new insights and some varieties to look out for: 5 petalled Tea Roses Dainty Bess,  Mrs Oakley Fisher (golden) and Ellen Willmott (white) rugarosa Robusta and colour changing Mutabilis

Above is a true red rose that also flowers very early on a robust plant 5 feet tall.


Now a more commonly available single rose this Rosa ‘Canary Bird’  is a tall growing very floriferous lemon- yellow rose with good foliage.

Read More Read More

Top Ten Old Roses

Top Ten Old Roses

Repeat flowering old Rose varieties do what it says in their name however the first 5 in my Top Ten only flower once per year but still inspire.

Old Rose Top Ten

  1. Celsiaha  this Damask rose is strong and vigourous with good clusters of large, lasting, pale pink flowers.
  2. Enfant de France is a compact gallica rose with sweet scented, double flowers in a silvery pink with quilled petals.
  3. Rosa gallica Versicolour or Rosa mundi is a 16th Century semi double variety with candy striped red and white flowers.
  4. Mme Hardy is a pure white rose opening from a slightly pink bud on a shrub up to 6 feet tall. It is disease resistant and good in an organic garden.
  5. Mme Sancy de Parabere is a thornless climber. Early flowering yet hardy plant with double, saucer-shaped flowers and ragged petals of deep lavender pink.
  6. John Hooper is a strong scented pink hybrid with perpetual flowering.
  7. Gloire Lyonnaise Semi-double creamy white blooms on a very erect shrub. Virtually thornless shrub that withstands wet weather better than most.
  8. Captain Hayward has light crimson, shapely, double flowers with excellent orange hips.
  9. Paul Neyron has large 6″ flowers in a deep shade of pink.
  10. Souvenier du Doctor Jamain has medium-sized flowers of the richest maroon colouring, opening flat. Grows 6ft. tall x 3ft. wide.

Classes of Old Roses

The Gallicas are probably the oldest of all garden roses forming short bushy shrubs, many of which are quite suitable for small gardens. They were grown by the Greeks and Romans then bred in 17th century by the Dutch and French.
Among them are some very fine roses with magnificent mixtures of colour particularly among the crimson, purple and mauve shades. They have beautiful flower formation with open upright blossom which shows the yellow stamens
All of the Gallicas are once blooming and most have very good fragrances. Tuscany variety is an almost black purple may be the oldest surviving Gallica from pre 1596.

Damask roses are another very old group, said to have originally been brought from the Middle East by the Crusaders.

Read More Read More

Boost Your Patio Roses Now

Boost Your Patio Roses Now

Spring Booster For Pot Roses

  • My patio roses have been given some TLC (TenderLovingCare) to set them up for flowering this summer.
  • TLC has involved checking over the pots and how they and the roses over wintered. Luckily there were no disaster or significant problems.
  • Pots were on the dry side, no bad thing through winter but now I will up the watering with dilute fertiliser.
  • The high growth had been trimmed in late autumn but now I undertook some careful pruning. Old and dead wood was cut out and the center of the rose was opened up to allow in air as they develop.
  • I took off the top 3 inches of soil and replaced it with a top dressing of John Innes and compost. I added a few slow release granules to each pot first.
  • Last year I covered the top of each pot with an inch of Strulch to suppress weeds and help watering. That worked so well I am repeating this mulch for this year. The old Strulch and top compost has gone on the heap.
  • I checked the pots for winter damage, fortunately they survived intact

Future Care and Boosting Plans

  • Black spot can be a problem on susceptible varieties so I will spray with a fungicide. Infected leaves will be taken off and dustbinned.
  • I will feed with a rose feed in may and a tomato feed after the first flush of flowers.
  • I am potentially over feeding as I hope to get some more cut flowers this year.
  • I also plan to buy another plant, or several, they are great value for money.

Pot Observations

  • My pots are a mishmash but I prefer those that are uniform terracotta pots.
  • Even in my glazed pots and two twelve inch square plastic efforts the patio roses produce masses of flowers annually.
  • Most pots contain roses over 5 years old and I do not re-pot them.
  • My favourite pots are 16 inch high ‘Long Toms’ that make a group of three. This grouping helps a micro-climate and a blowsy display.
  • The shortest pot in 9 inches high and I should have selected a miniature rose rather than a fully fledged patio variety. Several miniature roses are in my shallow soiled rockery.



Grow Top Patio Roses

Grow Top Patio Roses


What is a Patio Rose if it isn’t a rose grown on a patio?
Patio roses grow bigger and bushier than miniatures and are about 14 -24 inch high, yet they are perfectly formed. H.T. Bush and Floribunda roses grow bigger but Patio roses are easy and decorative.

Patio Roses are easy for growing in small spaces and can be useful in many other garden locations. They can be grown in containers and pots or just planted near your front door.

Easy Places to Grow Patio Roses

Edging plants in front of other plants or in a narrow border on their own.
Some varieties make an attractive small hedge.
They all look well planted in groups 3-5-7 of each variety.
They are not house plants and are as hardy as larger roses.
Patio Roses are great for tubs and containers but remember to feed, water and mulch them.
Combined with summer bedding plants they will flower all summer long.

Patio Rose - Birthday WishesGrowing Tips For Patio Roses

Minimum pruning in late February or March will help keep them tidy.
Plant in full sun for the best show.
They are of course totally hardy and being perennials will appear year after year.
Roses are outdoor plants and do not survive in the house.

More information from Amazon in ‘Growing Miniature and Patio Roses’ by Dawn and Barry Eagle £6.99

Rose in our patio in Berwick upon Tweed

Top Ten Repeat flowering Patio Roses

Some special varieties providing a great display of colour and scent include:

  1. Loving Wishes A free flowering rose with good disease resistance and scented, scarlet-red blooms
  2. Golden Wishes The flowers are golden yellow with a slight fragrance and 14″ tall
  3. Flower Power produces peach-salmon blooms with a spicy scent
  4. Golden Anniversary Large fragrant golden rounded flowers with yellow centres from summer to autumn. Upright bush habit.
  5. Red or Yellow Sunblaze,
  6. Sweet Dreams, or  Sweet Magic,
  7. Charmant,
  8. Flirt,
  9. Diamond Wishes
  10. One of the smaller varieties is not surprisingly called Peter Pan.

There seems to be a named patio rose for most birthday and anniversary event if you shop around – that is modern marketing for you.

June is a wonderful time to appreciate the variety of easy care patio roses that are now available.

Third Year of outstanding Flowering

Facts about Patio Rose

  • Small and miniature versions of the traditional floribunda type of rose are being bred of the smaller gardens, window boxes, patios or decking areas.
  • ‘Peter Beales’ rose grower offers patio climbers, ramblers and a variety of shrub roses for patios
  • Patio roses can thrive in pots, containers or direct in the ground
  • The smaller cousins ‘miniature roses’ grow to a height of between 12 and 18 inches.
  • Patio plants grow up to 30″ tall are generally hardy and repeat well.

 Yorkshire Princess Patio Rose

Care Tips for Patio Roses

  • I have been fortunate but there have been no greenfly or bug infestations of any note. I would be ready with a garlic spray or proprietary insecticide if needs must.
  • Only one out of a dozen plants has suffered from black spot and as you can see the pots are close together so I must be lucky.
  • I gave my plants a mini prune in early spring after a winter prune to keep the plants short and prevent wind damage

On My Patio with Room for More

See also Top Ten Old Roses

Patio rose by Charles D P Miller CC BY 2.0
Patio Rose – Birthday Wishes by jovike CC BY-NC 2.0
Rose in our patio in Berwick upon Tweed by Karen V Bryan CC BY-ND 2.0

Columbines, Aquilegia, Paraquilegia & Semiaquilegia

Columbines, Aquilegia, Paraquilegia & Semiaquilegia

Aquilegia pumilla Alba

Genetic purity cannot be guaranteed with a species that has been bred and cultivated for centuries. The above Aquilegia flabellata is an alpine species found in Japan and the Kurile Islands. (Flabellata means fan-shaped)

Columbine Growing Tips

  • A porous soil is better than hard clay but Columbines grow in most soils preferring alkalinity.
  • Columbines like partially shady spots, and may be happy planted under leafy trees.
  • With long tap roots, they establish themselves where they are planted, so they may be difficult to move after a couple years.
  • Plants are hardy and do not require extra fertilizer.
  • Columbines are relatively pest and disease free but aphid attacks may need treatment

Columbine Features

  • Columbines range from 4″ to 4′ high
  • Columbines last 4 years and more depending on variety. You can extend life expectancy by cutting down flowered stalks prior to seeding.
  • Grow these beauties from seed – a variety pack of columbine seeds will no doubt delight you with the end product. If you are in a hurry you can buy pot grown plants but division of plants is seldom successful.
  • Columbines cross-pollinate readily and willingly so it can be fun growing from your self- collected seed.
  • 65 species are discussed in Robert Nolds book ‘Columbines’

Book Cover

More photos on Growing Aquilegia

The long spurred Aquilegias are showy perrenial plants that are easy to grow from seed sown March to June. These cottage garden favourites grow up to three feet tall on thin stems without hindering other plants. They are not too fussy about conditions tolerating some shade and dry spells.

Tips on growing  – Aquilegia

  • Aquilegias can be grown and used as cut flowers.
  • There are smaller varieties for rock gardens and patio pots such as A .Tiddlywinks
  • For a quick impact buy ready grown plants
  • Spurless double flowers like A. Noral Barlow and A William Guiness tend to be longer lived but I think they are less showy.
  • A. chrysatha is tolerant of shade try A. Yellow Queen and I like A. vulgaris with pure white flowers and grey green foliage.
  • The plants can be short lived but self sow and hybridise with other aquilegias. This can lead to inferior smaller seedlings and it may be best to start again as the plants are so easy to grow.
Perfect Parsley

Perfect Parsley

Parsley Tips

  • I have grown this parsley from spring sown seed. Germination can be a bit erratic as warm temperatures are needed.
  • After a summer in the herb bed I have potted a clump up in the greenhouse.
  • Before the worst frosts I will bring a pot into the house for snipping onto potatoes and garnishing fish.
  • The flat leaved variety is one of my favourite herbs but I am not very successful at growing it. Fortunately there are many varieties that seem to be within my compass.
  • Parsley is a hungry feeder so if growing in a container add some bone meal

The curly herb Parsley crispum is naturally slow to germinate. If the soil dries out it may never germinate.

DSC03927 - parsley

Germination Tips

    • Try watering the drill then sow the seed in the drill covering with dry soil. This covering will dramatically reduce evaporation so the seed will be in contact with moisture for longer.

Read More Read More

Allotments on Knight’s Hill London

Allotments on Knight’s Hill London

Back garden, spring 2008

I was caught by the headline ‘On the Eighth day God Created Allotments

With new interest in researching allotments I came across this fantastic picture with lots of detail. ‘Back garden, spring 2008 by Darkroom Daze’ has been made available under a creative commons license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Here is some of the supporting detail but you can find more by clicking the picture thanks to Darkroom Daze.

The garden was very plain and bare when we arrived in 1985. We have been developing the design gradually since then, but not from a single pre-planned conception. Eventually we developed the overall shape, with a ‘winding river’ effect made by the lawns and path. The shapes of the rockeries, planting and other features are based on the way a small stream winds between ‘interlocking spurs’ in hilly terrain. We did all the planting, and I built many of the features. For further history of our garden, see set description for ‘OUR BACK GARDEN’
FEATURES (also noted on photo if viewed with flickr)
– Arbour – R foreground, only slat-roof visible, assembled from flat-pack.
– Garden railway – L foreground, on Water Rockery, G-scale 45mm gauge.
– Path – of reclaimed York stone laid in ‘crazy’ style by local landscaper, late Mr. Rogers, to our own winding design, shortly after we arrived in 1985.
– Temple of Juno garden shed – centre L, with white portico and shingled roof, built by me in sections out of reclaimed timber (“Rosen Wanted”) at a previous house, brought here and extended with portico, and finished by joiner Steve Cruse.
– Upper Rockery (Railway Rockery) – lower centre, with evergreen and alpine planting, and Upper Loop ofGarden Railway (not visible here), built myself of various kinds of stone in simulated geological structure.
– Valrosa Cabin workshop – centre background, brown, fully insulated, completed earlier in the year by Acer Landscapes.
– Water Rockery – centre L, with pumped water course, upper pools, cascades, and lower loop of garden railway, though only the railway is visible here. Almost all built myself.
PLANTS (also noted on photo)
– Buxus sempervirens – jelly-mould box-hedge, centre L foreground.
– Chamaecyparis, columnar, not sure what species or form – in neighbour’s garden to L, along the fence.
– Chamaecyparis – probably C. lawsoniana, Lawson’s cypress, ‘Stewartii’ or ‘Westermannii’ – neighbours’ tall bright conifer, R centre.
– Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Squarrosa’ – Sawara cypress, centre L immediately in front of Temple of Juno portico.
– Clematis armandii – evergreen climber on fence behind arbour, lower R. Looks reddish because this is colour of new spring shoots.
– Clematis cirrhosa var. balearica – growing over old apple tree stumps. centre L foreground.
– Cotoneaster frigidus – centre L in front of Temple of Juno.
– Escallonia macrantha – two shrubs shaped into an arch over side path, L side only visible here, centre R.
– Juniperus scopulorum ‘Skyrocket’ – pillar juniper, centre R.
– Lonicera japonica – Japanese honeysuckle, evergreen, closest part of R hedge.
– Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesen’s Gold’ – lower centre R, between path and arbour.
– Origanum vulgare ‘Aureum’ – golden marjoram, at front of Upper Rockery along the path, lower centre.
– Phormium tenax probably ‘Rainbow Queen’ – New Zealand flax, the spiky plant just R of centre foreground.
– Picea glauca var. albertiana ‘Conica’ – dwarf white spruce, two of them, one behind the other, lower centre by path.
– Picea glauca var. albertiana ‘Conica’ – dwarf white spruce, two trees one behind the other, lower centre on Upper Rockery.
– Picea mariana ‘Nana’ – dwarf black spruce, lower centre by path.
– Platycladus orientalis ‘Beverleyensis’ – golden form of Eastern Thuja, in shade, L foreground.
– Prunus domesticus (presumably) – the neighbours’ plum tree, upper centre L, to L of Valrosa Cabin.
– Pyracantha, probably P. x watereri – in neighbours’ garden, growing against fence, lower R.
– Pyrus probably P. communis – common pear tree, in neighbours’ garden, top L.
– Quercus – probably Q. robur L., pedunculate oak, growing along fence behind a neighbouring garden, top R.
– Taxus baccata – yew, golden fastigiate form, probably ‘Standishii’ – front L in neighbour’s garden.’

Rosendale Allotments Association

  • Established in 1880 the Rosendale Allotments Association RAA has 480 plots on the site with plot holders and sharers from South London.
  • RAA is looking for votes in a competition to find a name for their periodic newsletter.
    • The Plot Thickens
    • Green Stuff
    • Hot Off The Plot
    • Green News Digest
  • In common with many other allotment sites RAA has had to suspend the waiting list as at current rate of turnover waiting time for an allotment on the site is estimated at twenty years.

Shed view
Other credits Shed view by coconinoco CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 with London skyline.

Help Change the Colour of Hydrangeas

Help Change the Colour of Hydrangeas


What Causes and Changes Hydrangea Colour

  • Hydrangeas grown in the presence of metal salts, particularly Iron or Aluminium sulphates, will turn blue.
  • Plants growing in acid soil will turn the best form of blue but acid soil on its own is no guarantee of a blue Hydrangea.
  • Pale pink varieties tend to change to the deepest blue.
  • Dark pink varieties tend to turn mauve or muddy purple when treated with metal salts.
  • Blue varieties will seldom turn pink unless all the metal salts are washed out and withheld. Even then it may be a naturally pink variety.
  • You can buy a bluing agent or colourant from a garden centerelp change the colour from pink to blue. You can introduce metal salts in other ways like us to hing rusty nails or even tealeaves in the soil.


Pot and Container Grown Hydrangeas

  • Hydrangeas need plenty of water – just a reminder. However they can be grown in pots both outdoors and as a houseplant.
  • Mix blueing agent if required with the soil when potting a hydrangea. Water weekly with a solution of water and colourant dissolved in a little hot water then diluted per the instructions on the packet.

thorpe perow hydrangea

Help White Hydrangeas

  • White varieties of Hydrangea will stay white despite the gardener.
  • As white flowers age they may take on a pink tinge to the outer-side of the petals.
  • White flowers will last longer with some shade before turning brown.
  • The Hydrangea panniculata Limelight pictured has a natural green tinge that looks very attractive under larger trees.

Coloured Hydrangeas

  • Mophead Hydrangea Macrophylla ayesha shown above is purple on this neutral London soil and flowers on previous seasons wood.
  • Most neutral and alkaline soils produce pink Hydrangeas whilst an acid soil will have a blue flower.
  • White Hydrangeas remain white or the bracts get tinged pink as they age.
  • These colour rules apply to Lacecap hydrangeas where the bract-petals don’t all open and have a looser more subtle effect.
  • To turn a pink Hydrangea blue add aluminium salts or iron salts. You can add by powder or colourant mixes.
  • A Pink hydrangea needs no aluminium and lime is used to restrict its uptake of metal salts.


Other Hydrangeas

  • Hydrangea arborescens is smaller than many hydrangeas, they are around 3ft  height and spread. One of the best varieties is ‘Annabelle’ which is a mound forming shrub which is compact and requires little pruning. The flowers are a very showy, large and white.
  • Hydrangea paniculata are generally larger and have a large cone or pantical of flowers
  • Hydrangea quercifolia has large lobed leaves like oak leaves
  • Hydrangea anomala is a climbing plant that has attractive mahogany brown stems and lush, bright green, deciduous foliage. The lacecap flowers last just a few weeks in summer.

Further information on Grow healthy hydrangeas
Tips for Growing Hydrangeas and Hydrangea Aspera

Amazon supply Colourant to change hydrangeas click here